Document


Title

Palaeoecological records as a guide for fire management in Killarney National Park, Ireland
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Donna Hawthorne; Daniele Colombaroli; Fraser J. G. Mitchell
Publication Year: 2021

Cataloging Information

Keyword(s):
  • charcoal
  • ecosystem services
  • fire dynamics
  • fire management
  • Ireland
  • pollen
  • vegetation
  • wildfire
Region(s):
  • International
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: October 29, 2021
FRAMES Record Number: 64602

Description

Climate change is allowing fire to expand into previously unburnt ecosystems and regions. While management policies such as fire suppression have significantly altered their frequency and intensity. To prevent future biodiversity/ecosystem services loss, and the large financial burden of wildfires, management plans will be required to adapt to future climate and land use changes. Long-term ecological data offer a unique perspective to assess fire variability under different climate and land-use conditions. In this study, we focus on Killarney National Park, Ireland. An area which today is under threat from an increase in fire activity. Comparing palaeoecological and archaeological records, we reconstruct the past fire dynamic and its impact on the landscape, and evaluate the role of climate vs humans in influencing the natural fire regime over the millennial time-scale. Our results indicate that fire has been present in the landscape since the beginning of the Holocene, with fire in the early Holocene being largely controlled by climate and microsite conditions, and in the late Holocene being increasingly influenced by human activity. The knowledge of past fire regimes can help inform future management in order to protect the semi-natural native woodland. The park's present landscape mosaic, could be preserved by limiting forest encroachment through moderate grazing and burning, while also protecting any fragmented forest from excessive grazing and large/intense fires, via traditional fire management strategies such as fuel load management. However, a fire management strategy should only be implemented following careful consideration of all ecosystem factors and controls.

Online Link(s):
Citation:
Hawthorne, Donna; Colombaroli, Daniele; Mitchell, Fraser J.G. 2021. Palaeoecological records as a guide for fire management in Killarney National Park, Ireland. Proceedings of the Geologists' Association online early.